The world's first manned commercial spacecraft has reached a major milestone. Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo was released from the mothership and completed its first solo glide flight over the Mojave Desert yesterday, Wired reports. The craft, which is undergoing rigorous testing ahead of plans to carry paying customers to space and back, landed safely at the Mojave Air and Space Port after being released at 45,000 feet.
"It's a very big deal," Virgin president Richard Branson said. "The sky is no longer the limit, and we will begin the process of pushing beyond to the final frontier of space itself over the next year." Branson says he expects the first passenger flights to suborbital space to begin within 18 months. Some 80,000 people have placed their names on the waiting list for seats, which are expected to cost around $200,000.